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Philmont gear selection..
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Johnq Grimes
(jgrimes227) - F

Locale: Northern Virginia
Footwear and cautions on 02/24/2007 13:26:27 MST Print View

Great comments from everyone, not to mention fond memories. Went twice, 1957 and 1967 and just have two recommendations to elaborate on remarks already made. Trails differ all over Philmont - the rocky ones going down hill are foot killers if you don't have solidly built soles, vibram comes to mind. Our scout professional was enthusiastic for inexpensive work brogans with soft soles. They were OK on nice soil trails but were torture when the trail turned to rock or heavy "gravel". The Merrils mentioned earlier, while lightweight, have good solid soles. On both trips we lost boys because of exuberant play - one broke a toe on a tent peg while running, and another opened his kneee on a discarded tin can in a camp trash pile while playing capture the flag. We hated to see these lads loose their experience - and it is here where the leaders can help by being aware of the threat and attempting to make sure these boys exuberance and energy don't wreck it all for themselves.

Jenna Jacobs
(lynchick) - F
Philmont on 03/01/2007 09:05:58 MST Print View

Thank you Doug!

I am a 20 year old, Girl Scout, that will be working as a program counselor in the back country at Philmont in 2007 and found your article very informational. I am looking forward to this summer and can't wait to get out to Philmont. I have never been to Philmont before but my boyfriend, his brothers, my brothers, and numerous other friends have been ... I have heard nothing but amazing stories.

Thanks again for the information & good luck on your trek in July.

Bruce Tolley

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Floorless Tents on 03/02/2007 16:09:57 MST Print View

I am preparing a crew for Philmont. We asked about floors and were told they were required although nothing in the literature defines tent as a shelter with a floor. Can the author offer insight into how to confirm that floors are or are not required.

On tents being more bear safe than tarps, can someone point to the data. It sounds like hearsay.

As far as Philmont is concerned, the only scenario I can build is that if the cooking and eating is done near the dining tarps, and not near the tents, then the tents are safer because of their greater distance from the food smells.

Since much of bear behavior is learned, I supposed you could also make a case that the Philmont bears have been trained that there is never food in the tents, therefore the tents are safer.

Jan Skoropinski
(jskoropinski) - F
tarps vs tents on 04/03/2007 14:47:12 MDT Print View

Philmont runs over 30,000 scouts and adults through the backpacking program every summer. The only reason that makes sense to me about the use of tents and floors is the it can be closed up. BSA always thinks of the saftey of the participants first. Most tents that can be closed up have a inner tent cover by a rainfly. This inner tent keeps the bugs,and "mini-bears" out of your sleeping area. The zoonology of this is to prevent disease from spreading from the mice and other creatures that might just wander on to your sleeping bag and leave some "deposits". Those "deposits" like mouse urine can carry viruses that you really don't want to be breathing.

Philmont always requires a dinning tarp to store your pack and other items that might still have some residual smells. If a bear has investigated and found something under a tarp, then he has been trained to look under a tarp. Even if the tarp has no smells, the bears courious nature might lead it to investigate a tarp.

I feel that keeping the "mini-bears" out of the sleeping areas are probably the most likely.

Edited by jskoropinski on 04/03/2007 14:48:24 MDT.

(onthecouchagain) - MLife

Locale: Sunny SoCal
Bears,sharks, aliens, and ? on 04/03/2007 17:30:13 MDT Print View

All part of the experience...get out there and get into it!


Edited by onthecouchagain on 04/03/2007 21:38:35 MDT.

david edelstein
(dedelstein) - F

Locale: texas gulf coast
ultralight gear on 05/28/2007 21:41:55 MDT Print View

There have been a few comments that Scouts may not be capable of properly handling/protecting ultralight gear such as tents, backpacks and sleeping bags. Before committing our troop to this type of equipment I would like to hear comments. We are planning for June 2008.

Douglas Frick
(Otter) - MLife

Locale: Wyoming
Re: ultralight gear on 05/29/2007 22:18:06 MDT Print View

>...Scouts may not be capable of properly handling/protecting ultralight gear...

Capable, yes; motivated, maybe not. You've got plenty of time, so have them make their own tents, packs, quilts, etc., and then they'll take care of them!

Douglas Prosser
(daprosser) - MLife

Locale: Camarillo, California (SCAL)
Question I received on 05/31/2007 22:29:53 MDT Print View

I have had a number of emails concerning Philmont questioning the Keva, Betamid tents. They never had any issues with these tents. In 2007 The Scotmaster & myself will be using a Metamid which may get us a bit more room.

Alan Marcum
(ammpilot) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Lightweight Gear; Weather on 06/07/2007 18:04:59 MDT Print View

First, a note on Philmont weather. Philmont experiences a monsoon in late July and early August. If your trek is a late 72x or an 80x or 81x (i.e., starting in late July or early August), plan for more than just the brief afternoon thunderstorm. (We were 803-E in 2005, and had three solid days of rain early in the trek, and a day of cold, driving rain late. Great experience nonetheless!)

Second, david edelstein asked whether "Scouts may not be capable of properly handling/protecting ultralight gear..." If they're trained well and have experience with it, yes. At least, the Scouts in my troop who are old enough and experienced enough for Philmont will, given training and experience.

Besides, there's a great piece of motivation. Load one pack with lightweight gear and another with more conventional gear. Don't just stop there: include all the little single-purpose gadgets and such in a conventional load. Then, add fuel and a four days' supply of food (fake it with ballast). Now, ask each Scout which pack he (or she, if you've a co-ed Venturing crew) would rather carry. Explain what that means regarding care for gear.

("I...want to go baaaack to Philmont!")

Edited by ammpilot on 06/08/2007 19:03:33 MDT.

James Gates
(jamesg) - F
Philmont Gear on 06/17/2007 19:42:24 MDT Print View

There was a comment about floors being required at Philmont. In 2004 we used a home made 2 man Shires Tarptent which has no floor and there were no problems. The Philmont staff accepted it (before we left home I verified we could use it). It, in fact, worked flawlessly. We laid the ground cloth over the netting flaps and had the equivalent of a floor anyway. One camp site had a serious mosquito population and we appreciated the netting walls. If I was going again I would carry this shelter or a similar one without hesitation.

david edelstein
(dedelstein) - F

Locale: texas gulf coast
philmont equipment on 06/17/2007 20:51:51 MDT Print View

I have another equipment question. Philmont supplies the crews with relatively heavy 6-8 qt. and a 4 qt. pots. What are people using these days? Any alternatives? Also, the MSR simmerlite is the lightest white gas stove but is it advisable? What about the Dragonfly, EGX or the Whisperlite? I have some concerns about pot stability and flame adjustability.

Alan Marcum
(ammpilot) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Re: philmont equipment on 06/17/2007 22:34:36 MDT Print View

Philmont gives you a bunch of food. You can cook it as a crew, or you can break the crew up into smaller cook groups.

If you've a relatively small crew (e.g., 7-9), you can get by pretty easily doing as we did on a 50 Miler with a crew of 9: three groups, each rotating among cooking, cleaning, and water duties. We had, if I recall, three MSR stoves, though I think two will do fine at Philmont. We used normal smaller backpacking-size pots (~1.5-2 liters), and they work fine on the Dragonfly, Whisperlite, and Simmerlite.

As I recall from our trek (2005), all the dinners were just add boiling water (or maybe cold water for one of the horrendously bad desserts!), stir, and wait.

Mitchell Keil
(mitchellkeil) - F

Locale: Deep in the OC
Re: Philmont -- camp chairs on 06/18/2007 12:38:35 MDT Print View

Several option are available:
1: chair converters for most of the self inflatables can be purchased for around $20-$25 from a number of online stores. Campmor is one. These converters turn your mat into a very comfortable chair and weigh about 14oz.
2: a Sling Light chair which weighs about 20oz and can be strapped to the back of a pack very easily. These have become pretty dear to purchase, about $100, but those of us who own one swear by them and have to carry sidearms when out because so many people want to "try" them out. Available here with pictures:

Michael Crosby
(djjmikie) - MLife

Locale: Ky
Camp chairs on 06/18/2007 14:36:15 MDT Print View

Weighing in at 2 lb 4 oz is the trail sling. It is similar to the sling light without the headrest. It is also trickier to setup.

Only 20.00

Andrew King
(kayak101187) - F
Philmont/ Double H high adventure base on 07/06/2007 15:19:09 MDT Print View

Hi guys i have been a member here for a while now and just noticed this discussion. I am currently working at the Double H high adventure base about 5 hours south of philmont. I know some of you are active in the scouts whether it be through your sons or that you are an adult leader. I highly encourage you all to try and come to the double H high adventure base. Having been to philmont before I can tell you that this place is 10x better. If you have any questions about philmont or the double H i would be more than happy to answer them. e-mail me at

Robert Kelly
(QiWiz) - MLife

Locale: UL gear @
Re: boots vs. shoes at Philmont on 07/07/2007 10:01:21 MDT Print View

Based on two "superstrenuous" treks as an overweight (just within Philmont limits) adult advisor at Philmont:

If you have OK ankles, you can wear low cut shoes or boots without ankle support. If you watch where you step, you can wear trail runners or lightweight low-cut boots without getting bruises on your feet. The lighter your load, the better, as long as you have enough gear for safety. For most, sock liners under a thicker sock will result in no blisters if shoes are sized properly, and broken in (for boots this is especially important - better to wear old sneakers than new boots anyday)

Crews going to Philmont should try out their foot gear for long hikes on rocky trails to see if it will work for them.

Will McCranie
(Bigwillie) - F
Re: Re: Boots @ Philmont on 07/13/2007 23:19:17 MDT Print View

i just finished the Rayado program at Philmont and wore boots the whole time. several others, including one ranger, wore tennis shoes or trail runners the whole time, and loved it. i wear full size boots because i have bad ankles and need the support, but i came through with no blisters and doing fine despite the weight. sock liners help a lot to prevent foot problems, and a pair of crocs was nice to have at the end of the day.

Will McCranie
(Bigwillie) - F
Re: was doing ultra-lite at Philmont in 85 on 07/13/2007 23:29:24 MDT Print View

There is a difference in the things a normal trek does and what a Rayado crew can do. Because of its nature, a Rayado trak has different rules. Most of these i can't talk about here, but if any of y'all ever have a boy do it he can tell you about it. I've been to philmont two years in a row now, once on a normal trek and once on a Rayado trek, and had two completely different experiences. Both were awesome, but one(Rayado) was a good bit harder than the other(normal trek).
From these experiences, and as a boy who will probably wind up a ranger in the next couple of years, I strongly suggest you take a tent rather than a tarp or some such item. The extra protection is worth the extra weight. Share the tent with someone else and divide the weight. Or at least make sure your boys do. As more experienced backpackers you may know better where and how to set up a tarp in such a manner as to stay warm and dry, but your participants probably don't. 1-2 pounds more will not break the trek, but it may save it for some of your boys.

Just my input on the tents thing.

Thomas Cline
(mudcat57) - F
Re: bears on 07/16/2007 12:00:56 MDT Print View

As a Scout, I had the privelige of treking Philmont in 1972. Let me assure you, bears can and do approach a tent if the tent contains anything which the bear can construe as food. I remember one evening on the Philmont trail, just about dark, a very large brown bear (common at Philmont) walked straight into our camp. He was observed sniffing a water bottle which a scout had left just outside his tent (he was inside sleeping). It was later determined that the scout had filled his water bottle with Kool-aid. At least he was savy enough not to place the bottle inside his tent. We remembered the drill which had been taught us by our ranger, and made enough noise to distract the bear. He became uncomfortable, and moseyed on down the trail.

Wayne Kraft
(WayneKraft) - F
Re: Tents versus tarps on 07/18/2007 21:26:56 MDT Print View

Shawn says:

"1. Bears - Nearly 50 years of research has shown that campers out in the open or under a simple tarp are more than 3 times as likely to be attacked be grizzlies and more than twice as likely by black bears than campers in enclosed tents. Why? There's not one standard reason, but the data clearly indicates that staying tucked away inside a tent reduces your chance of attack. (If you bring smellables into your tent, all bets are off of course)"

I've never heard this before. I've had little experience with bear encounters. I nearly ran into one on a trail in the Canadian Rockies, but he disappeared pronto. My only encounter. But I have done the requisite reading and what not. What's the source of this information? If this is true it would probably affect my choice of shelter for Yosemite and other areas with large population of habituated bears. It does make some sense intuitively. Out of sight, out of mind? But my understanding is that bears can't see that well anyway and I think I would smell about the same in either a tarp or a tent.